Review: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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Publication: September 24 2013
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages:  371 pages
Source: Bought (Indigo)
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adult
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human” (Schwab 289).

V.E. SCHWAB I AM ADDICTED TO YOUR BOOKS! HOW DOES YOUR BRILLIANT MIND WORK? HOW DO YOU MAKE SUCH COMPELLING, INTERESTING, AND DARK CHARACTERS AND MAKE ME LOVE THEM? WHY ARE YOU SO AMAZING?

So if it isn’t obvious, I loved Vicious and I love V.E. Schwab (which is bound to become an old mantra very very soon). Vicious has been on my reading list since last year when I first read and fell in love with the Shades of Magic series (and V.E. Schwab), and if it weren’t for my many many holds at the library last year I probably would have read it sooner. But then Schwab announced that Vicious was getting a face lift to match the cover to its sequel Vengeful, so I made myself wait until the new cover came out to buy it. And am I ever glad I did.

Vicious follows two intelligent and dark university roommates, Victor Vale and Eli Cardale who in their final year team up on a thesis project to try to discover how ExtraOrdinary’s (or EO’s, people with superpowers) are created. Finding a link between adrenaline and near death experiences, the two students decide to put their theories to the test and see if they can make their own EO’s, through each other, which leads to disaster.

Ten years later Victor Vale is out of prison and looking for Eli with his group of strays: his strong chocolate milk obsessed prison mate Mitch and Sydney a young girl with a strange ability. Together they set out to stop Eli who has begun killing EO’s and swaying the Merit Police Force to his side with a sneaky siren. Will Victor be able to get his revenge on Eli, or will Eli succeed as the hero he believes he is?

I really don’t know what to say. Vicious gave me such a book-hangover it was all I could think about after reading. Though the jumping back and forth between the past and present was a bit confusing at the beginning, I was able to get used to it and understand why Schwab wrote it the way she did. Vicious is a book about superheroes and villains, and in every sense of the word the book is a comic book without the pictures. We are given the origin stories of each of our protagonists; we see them come into their powers, what sets them on their paths and where it takes and how it shapes them throughout the novel. Schwab’s talent as a storyteller makes illustration unnecessary; though a Vicious graphic novel is too tempting an idea to refuse!

I adored absolutely every character in this book. Schwab has a talent for making every character likable, even if they’re bad. I am absolutely in love with Victor Vale and would join his team of strays in a heartbeat even though I have little to offer. He’s an incredibly complicated character whose motivations, angst, and deep care for those around him made me want to protect him at all costs. Eli and Serena always kept me interested because I loved reading about why they thought what they were doing was right and trying to figure them out. Eli is still an incredibly mysterious character, and his charisma on the page makes him a character you can’t help but want to know more about, try to analyze and pick away at him like Victor, and I hope we get to know more in Vengeful. Sydney was definitely one of my favourites with her innocence, her growth and discovery of her own self, and her love of animals (I’m a sucker for animals too girl). And dear sweet Mitch, you can have all the chocolate milk in the world.

At its heart Vicious is about what makes a hero and villain and how we define it. Schwab complicates the superhero story we’ve all become familiar with the Marvel madness of recent years and forces us to look at these characters as not simply extraordinary (hehe) but as people who feel and make decision like every person out there. The only difference is that these people have amazing abilities, and these abilities can privilege or hinder their lives and those around them, changing their motivations and how they live their lives. It’s a brilliant metaphor, especially with all that’s happening in the world around us, and I’m happy that Vicious got it’s re-release and face lift in a time where we need to be really aware of the heroes and villains around us, and where we fit in the middle.

Vicious is simply brilliant. It is everything superhero/villain fans will love and more and is a definite read if you’ve already read Schwab or wants to start. And with a cover as gorgeous as this one, how could you say no to this book? (Also if there are any fans of The OA out their this show has a lot of similar ideas, though it’s still very different. Something to tide you over while you wait for the release of Vengeful!)

 

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